In amongst their FA Cup and Premier League fixture congestion, Chelsea face a daunting trip to Russia to face Rubin Kazan, who have already knocked out holders Atletico Madrid.
The oil-rich Russians boast a number of stars but are somewhat an unknown quantity to English fans, and a side who are already difficult to beat will be looking to further prove themselves in this competition.
Ahead of the game, Oliver Todd has taken a look at the players Chelsea will have to watch out for and how Rubin may approach the game.
Jose Rondon has five goals so far in this season's Europa League, including a brace against Inter Milan. The young Venezuela international left Malaga last summer and was said to be as "fundamental" to the club's previous successes as Arsenal playmaker Santi Cazorla. He was also rumoured to have attracted interest from Tottenham, Newcastle and West Ham. Pacey and athletic, he represents an excellent outlet for the creative sources operating in behind him and his return of five goals in 10 Europa League game mark him out as a striker that Chelsea's backline will need to be wary of.
Kazan manager Kurban Berdeyev has built his squad around Roman Eremenko's technical ability and, judging by his appearances in Europe so far this season, rightly so. The 26-year-old is versatile and has been employed in the centre of midfield, as well as wide and as an attacking midfielder. His assists in Madrid against Atletico and against Inter in Milan indicate a player who relishes the big games - and very few come bigger than the European champions. However, if he picks up a booking at Stamford Bridge, as he did in both games against Levante, he will miss the return leg in Moscow.
Argentine defender Cristian Ansaldi has been impressive for Rubin so far in their Europa League campaign, recording more minutes on the pitch than any of his fellow defenders. In an impressive backline that has only conceded five goals so far, Ansaldi has stood out - although perhaps a little too much having been sent off in the first leg against Levante. He has been previously linked with Manchester City.
STYLE OF PLAY
Rubin have made themselves notoriously hard to beat in the competition so far, with a 1-0 home loss to Atletico Madrid, when they were already ahead in the tie, the only blot on their record. When they want it to be, though, the Russians' play is very easy on the eye, with the creative forces of Eremenko and Bibras Natkho representing the creative hub of the side. With Rondon up front they can be particularly dangerous on the counter, something Chelsea will be wary of with a defence that has struggled at times under Rafael Benitez this season. However, it should be noted that Kazan can be an aggressive side, and have been reduced to 10 men in both of the previous rounds.
EUROPA LEAGUE CAMPAIGN TO DATE
Rubin have been impressive so far in Europe's second tier competition. They topped Group H ahead of Inter Milan, including a 3-0 win over the Italians in Kazan, before seeing off holders Atletico 2-1 on aggregate, managing what few have done this season and beating the likes of Radamel Falcao in Madrid. They followed that up by knocking out fellow Spaniards Levante in extra time to reach the quarter-finals. Notoriously tight at the back, Rubin have only conceded five goals in their 10 games in the competition.
The 'Tatars' have tended to line-up in a similar 4-2-3-1 formation employed by Chelsea throughout this season, with highly rated Venezuelan striker Rondon leading the line, although the versatility of Eremenko has allowed them to switch to 4-4-1-1 and 4-3-3 when deemed necessary. When they need to defend, their shape is compact and, given Chelsea's poor strike rate in the Europa League so far, a low scoring tie should be expected.